I was having a text conversation with my daughter-in-law this morning and I felt like I wanted to run out into the middle of the street and yell to every young mom in earshot– YOU’RE GOING TO MISS IT!!!
I am speaking from a deep well of experience here. Trust me, in my quest for perfection, I even had a Dr. tell me to lighten up on my kiddos. I was giving my seven-year-old headaches because of the to-do list that I adhered to AND expected my kids to adhere to! My struggle to maintain control of the household, my day to day duties, the kids schedules, the laundry, the expectations, church schedules, groceries-the never ending list of things that had to happen-I was driving myself batty and hauling the kids along for the ride.
I get it. I understand the need to feel like you are on top of things, that you can manage, that you can have a clean house, a happy family, a well-cooked meal, and work and, and, and the list goes on forever. I think the pressure may be even worse for young women raising families in the age of Instagram and Pintrest. I didn’t have that-I had my own expectations and a husband who came home and asked me what I did all day. Let’s just say I am sure he remembers the last time he asked that question.
I may have amended my ways, somewhat, but it wasn’t until years later when my kids were grown that I really realized what I missed out on and the potential future therapy bills they may or may not have because of my perfection issue. I read a book a couple of years back that has crept into my thinking and perhaps not in the way it was intended. The Nesting Place, by Myquillyn Smith, is a decorating book. She does a great job of granting grace for the mess of everyday life and how to work around that to make a desirable atmosphere for your family and friends. I wish this would have been around when I was younger. Though, I am pretty sure I probably would have thought she just wasn’t trying hard enough (sorry-bad, I know). That’s how bad it was people.
Fast forward to a time when we had to break up a household, decide what to keep and what to pitch, move into a temporary place with none of our own things and wait to see what was going to happen. Changes how you think in a big way.This is when I found Myquillyn’s book (isn’t that the best name?). The premise of the book is that “It Doesn’t Have to be Perfect to be Beautiful”. I had months to sit with this idea and like anything you spend a great deal of time with you begin to absorb it. Now? I apply this to so many areas of my life. I don’t have to have the perfect home. We found a home that is just right. Not the perfect vision of what I thought I wanted/needed but the perfect home for us. I don’t have to have every last speck of dust wiped up or every floor vacuumed before I invite someone over-I am choosing relationship over really clean (Except for sheets. THOSE will always be clean. And towels too). Dinner doesn’t have to be amazing, it just needs to be good (and some days there just isn’t a dinner and that’s ok too. A little cereal never hurt anybody.) I have learned to apply the concept of IDHTBPTBB to so many areas of my life.
I don’t know if I mentioned that I am a grandma (Mim is what I go by). Grandbabies are another thing that will change how you look at life. Let me tell you, I will drop anything and everything to help with those grands if at all possible. When I get to watch those babies there is not a to-do list in the world that has anything more important than those kiddos. Teething baby? I will sit on a couch, in a rocker, on a yoga ball or stand and bounce for eight hours straight if that’s what it takes to make that baby feel comforted, loved and better in any way. Antsy toddler? I will roll up my sleeves, grab a smock and we will paint the day away or build a cardboard house or do any number of silly things to pass the time. I pray that as time goes by and these littles become bigger that I will still find ways to ease their pains and keep them busy but I know without a doubt that I will choose them over my to-do list. Always. Because I didn’t always do that for my own kids and that is time I can not redeem.
I want to shout loud that it is OK to let the laundry sit for awhile. It is OK to open your home with dirty floors. It is more than OK to not have a Pinterest-worthy home or an Instagram-ready meal. In a world of curated everything choose to be real and sit in the moments you have. Don’t waste them on wishing for something else or waiting for when everything is done. Love every second of where you are because one day your kids will be on their way, you will have wrinkles and there’s a good chance you’ll get gray hair to go with those wrinkles too. Life will move on at a breakneck speed and wishing for something different or waiting for everything to be finished will leave you empty handed and memory lacking. Make the memories now. Choose to play, choose to open your doors, spend your time living deeply into the life you have not making yet another to-do list of things that don’t matter in the end.
Chatting with my hubs last night he shared that he has been liquidating some out dated stock that came with the purchase of a business a year or so ago. These parts, without going into boring details, were once created by hand and were a specialized trade. In today’s world they are worthless. Nothing that can be used for anything more than scrap metal. The idea that someone’s life work-by today’s standards-has become little more than a pile of worthless metal is humbling to consider. This person put their life into their work and nothing remains. I can only hope that they invested in the relationships around them as much as they did perfecting their skill and craft because their impact on the people around them will be what remains.
We have that choice in our lives every day. Yes, we may have to work, and, yes, you should do a good job, but, in the end what remains may not be what you think it will be. That less than Pin worthy craft you make with your children is more than what you end up with, that book you drop everything to read with them, the time put into homework, or rocking a little one who doesn’t feel well-this is the good stuff. The real stuff. This is all that matters. The investment you make into their lives, their hearts, their worlds will reap more return than anything else you could be doing.